“Play is really the work of childhood.” – Fred Rogers
As we experienced the other day, sometimes its best just to relax and play around Vernon, keeping him out of attention’s center, but letting him hear the family chatter and children’s laughter.
Today the kids played Chinese Whispers (with Dad), Tag, and Hide-and-Seek around the courtyard. I had to scold Justine for shrieking too loud a few times but no one else seemed bothered or tried to stop them from making noise. I would like to think the sound of energetic kids is a breath of fresh air for most of them…but I want to be mindful of the resident’s noise tolerance.
I think Maki might have been extra playful today because he knew he would be leaving his sister alone for a few days, while he and I take a trip up to Seattle to visit my sister Cambria and her family (her boys adore their older boy cousin.) I bought the tickets months ago, thinking it would probably be good to get away by April, but also that I wanted to spend some quality time with Maki, as Justine gets most of my attention at home.
Turns out that Vernon has an out-patient surgery scheduled for Thursday (a new Dialysis Port put into his arm) and if I’d known this in advance, I wouldn’t have planned a trip this week. But because the tickets were bought so far in advance and Maki and I have been planning our touristy schedule together, I am going anyway! (I have someone willing to sit with him at the medical center before his surgery, by the way—thank you, Sharon!)
The house-psychologist introduced herself today, and told me that though Vernon hasn’t been cognizant enough to help, the family was eligible for time with her. Though we didn’t do a full session today, she did ask Justine to draw a picture of the family.
I don’t know if I should be showing this here, since I may be setting ourselves up for arm-chair analyses. But that’s Justine, Daddy, Mommy, and Maki from left to right. Daddy was the first one drawn…fully standing, with no wheelchair or bed. We thought it was interesting that she didn’t seem to see Vernon as disabled at all. Today Maki was the largest figure. Whether or not she would draw him this way last week or next, she was basking in his presence and attention today.
On the way home, Maki wanted to stop by the mall to buy her a gift before he left on his trip. He said he remembered his dad buying gifts for him before trips and wanted to do the same for her. I’ve noticed him stepping up in his role of ‘man of the house’ lately, and it’s a beautiful thing.
The other night, he planned a movie night around a film he though Justine would enjoy (there are so few that we can all get into, what with our different ages) so he found My Neighbor Totoro online. Basically its about a couple of young sisters who have a working father and a mother in the hospital (surprisingly close to home for us) and make friends with an adorable forest-spirit creature who helps protect them in danger. Here is a clip.
Maki was very clear about what he wanted to buy his sister at the mall. He found the right toy in the toy shop and paid out his own money for her own…TOTORO.
We are only going away for five days, but Maki felt the need to leave a little comfort with his sister, who doesn’t get to go. Justine had assured us that Totoro and Crystal would be good friends before they even met.
So here they are again, growing up beautifully before my eyes. Wish dad could appreciate it, but he will. And that’s part of why I write these things down.